The Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) was an anti-communist advocacy group founded in 1950. At its height, the CCF was active in thirty-five countries. In 1966 it was revealed that the United States Central Intelligence Agency was instrumental in the establishment and funding of the group.
Historian Frances Stonor Saunders writes (1999): "Whether they liked it or not, whether they knew it or not, there were few writers, poets, artists, historians, scientists, or critics in postwar Europe whose names were not in some way linked to this covert enterprise." A different slant on the origins and work of the Congress is offered by Peter Coleman in his Liberal Conspiracy (1989) where he talks about a struggle for the mind "of Postwar Europe" and the world at large.
|Congress for Cultural Freedom|
|Founded||26 June 1950|
|Dissolved||1979 (as International Association for Cultural Freedom)|
|Origins||Central Intelligence Agency|
|Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, Latin America, Australia|
|Method||conferences, journals, seminars|
|Melvin J. Lasky, Nikolai Nabokov, Michael Josselson|
|Endowment||CIA to 1966; Ford Foundation to 1979|
The CCF was founded on 26 June 1950 in West Berlin, which had just endured months of Soviet blockade. Its stated purpose was to find ways to counter the view that liberal democracy was less compatible with culture than communism. In practical terms it aimed to challenge the post-war sympathies with the USSR of many Western intellectuals and fellow travellers, particularly among liberals and the non-Communist Left.
Formation of the CCF came in response to a series of events orchestrated by the Soviet Union: the World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace in Wroclaw (Poland) in August 1948; a similar event in April the following year in Paris, the World Congress of Peace Partisans; and their culmination in the creation of the World Peace Council, which in March 1950 issued the Stockholm Appeal. As part of this campaign there had also been an event in New York City in March 1949: the Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was attended by many prominent U.S. liberals, leftists and pacifists who called for peace with Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union.
The founding conference of the Congress for Cultural Freedom was attended by leading intellectuals from the USA and Western Europe. Among those who came to Berlin in June 1950 were writers, philosophers, critics and historians: Franz Borkenau, Karl Jaspers, John Dewey, Ignazio Silone, James Burnham, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Bertrand Russell, Ernst Reuter, Raymond Aron, Alfred Ayer, Benedetto Croce, Arthur Koestler, Richard Löwenthal, Melvin J. Lasky, Tennessee Williams and Sidney Hook. There were conservatives among the participants, but non-Communist (or former Communist) left-wingers were more numerous. The man who would become the "godfather of Neoconservatism" Irving Kristol was also there.
The Manifesto of the Congress was drafted by Arthur Koestler, with amendments added on a motion proposed by historian Hugh Trevor-Roper and philosopher A.J. Ayer.
An Executive Committee was elected in 1950 at the founding conference in Berlin, with seven members and six alternate members: Irving Brown (Haakon Lie), Arthur Koestler (Raymond Aron), Eugen Kogon (Carlo Schmid), David Rousset (Georges Altman), Ignazio Silone (Nicola Chiaromonte), Stephen Spender (Tosco Fyvel) and Denis de Rougemont who became President of the Committee.
The management of the CCF was entrusted to its Secretariat, headed by Michael Josselson. By the time Josselson joined the Congress of Cultural Freedom in 1950 he was "undoubtedly a CIA officer". A polygot able to converse fluently in four languages (English, Russian, German and French), Josselson was heavily involved in the CCF's growing range of activities - its periodicals, worldwide conferences and international seminars - until his resignation in 1967, following the exposure of funding by the CIA.
At its height, the CCF had offices in thirty-five countries, employed dozens of personnel, and published over twenty prestigious magazines. It held art exhibitions, owned a news and features service, organized high-profile international conferences, and rewarded musicians and artists with prizes and public performances.
Between 1950 and 1966 the Congress sponsored numerous conferences. A selective list describes 16 conferences in the 1950s held principally in Western Europe but also in Rangoon, Mexico City, Tokyo, Ibadan (Nigeria) and South Vietnam: the Founding Conference in Berlin was followed in 1951 by the First Asian Conference on Cultural Freedom, held in Bombay. A further 21 conferences over an even wider geographical area are listed for the first half of the 1960s.
In the early 1960s, the CCF mounted a campaign against the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, an ardent communist. The campaign intensified when it appeared that Neruda was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964 but he was also published in Mundo Nuevo, a CCF-sponsored periodical.
The third of these 1966 articles began to detail false-front organizations and the secret transfer of CIA funds to, for example, the US State Department or to the United States Information Agency (USIA) which "may help finance a scholarly inquiry and publication, or the agency may channel research money through foundations--legitimate ones or dummy fronts." The New York Times cited, amongst others, the CIA's funding of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, Encounter magazine, 'several American book publishers', the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies, and a foreign-aid project in South Vietnam run by Michigan State University.
In 1967, the US magazines Ramparts and The Saturday Evening Post reported on the CIA's funding of a number of anti-communist cultural organizations aimed at winning the support of supposedly Soviet-sympathizing liberals worldwide. These reports were lent credence by a statement made by a former CIA covert operations director admitting to CIA financing and operation of the CCF. The CIA website states that "the Congress for Cultural Freedom is widely considered one of the CIA's more daring and effective Cold War covert operations."
In May the same year Thomas Braden, head of the CCF's parent body the International Organizations Division, responded to the Ramparts report in an article entitled "I'm Glad the CIA is 'Immoral'", in the Saturday Evening Post, defending the activities of his unit within the CIA. For more than ten years, Braden admitted, the CIA had subsidized Encounter through the CCF, which it also funded; one of the magazine's staff, he added, was a CIA agent.
In 1967 the organization was renamed the International Association for Cultural Freedom (IACF) and continued to exist with funding from the Ford Foundation. It inherited "the remaining magazines and national committees, the practice of international seminars, the regional programs, and the ideal of a worldwide community of intellectuals." There was also, until 1970, "some continuity of personnel".
Under Shepard Stone and Pierre Emmanuel the dominant policy of the new Association shifted from positions held by its predessor. No "public anti-Soviet protests" were issued, "not even in support of the harassed Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov". The culmination of this approach was a vast seminar at Princeton on "The United States: Its Problems, Impact, and Image in the World" (December 1968) where unsuccessful attempts were made to engage with the New Left. From 1968 onwards national committees and magazines (see CCF/IACF Publications below) shut down one after another. In 1977 the Paris office closed and two years later the Association voted to dissolve itself.
Certain of the publications that began as CCF-supported vehicles secured a readership and ongoing relevance that, with other sources of funding, enabled them to long outlast the parent organisation. Encounter continued publishing until 1991, as did Survey, while the Australian Quadrant and the China Quarterly survive to this day. While the revelation of CIA funding led to some resignations, notably that of Stephen Spender from Encounter, outside Europe the impact was more dramatic: in Uganda President Milton Obote had Rajat Neogy, the editor of the flourishing Transition magazine, arrested and imprisoned. After Neogy left Uganda in 1968 the magazine ceased to exist.
The European Intellectual Mutual Aid Fund (Fondation pour une Entraide Intellectuelle Européenne) set up to support intellectuals in Central Europe, began life as an affiliate of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. In 1991 it merged with the Open Society Foundations, set up and supported by financier and philanthropist George Soros.
The records of the International Association for Cultural Freedom and its predecessor the Congress for Cultural Freedom are today stored at the Library of the University of Chicago in its Special Collections Research Center.
Some of the Congress publications include:
|Aportes||ILARI||closed 1972||Produced by the Latin American Institute for International Relations (ILARI), established in 1966, which was closed by IACF in 1972.|
|Black Orpheus||Nigeria||1957–1975||Founded by German expatriate editor and scholar Ulli Beier, Black Orpheus has been described as a powerful catalyst for artistic awakening throughout West Africa.|
|Cadernos Brasileiros||Brazil||1959–1971||A quarterly (until 1963), later bi-monthly, literary magazine. ICAF subsidy ceased in 1971.|
|Censorship||United Kingdom||1964–1967||Edited by Murray Mindlin the six issues dealt with censorship around the world. (In 1972 Index on Censorship, a publication covering the same themes, was founded by Stephen Spender.)|
|China Report||India||1964–1970s||Established at the New Delhi bureau of the Congress, China Report became a bimonthly journalistic enterprise. After its IACF subsidy ended in 1971 it found other sources of funding.|
|The China Quarterly||United Kingdom||1960 to present||Became a leading journal on Communist China (and also Taiwan) by reason of its lack of rivals in the field and the scholarly standard of its articles. When its IACF subsidy ceased in 1968 it found other sources of funding.|
|Cuadernos del Congreso por la Libertad de la Cultura||Paris, intended for distribution in Latin America||1953–1963||Edited by Julián Gorkin, assisted by Ignacio Iglesias and Luis Mercier Verga - a cultural quarterly magazine that reached 100 issues.|
|Encounter||United Kingdom||1953–1991||A literary-political magazine founded by Stephen Spender and Irving Kristol. By 1963 its circulation had risen to 34,000 and that year the magazine secured independent funding. Edited from 1958 onwards by Melvin J. Lasky.|
|Examen||Mexico||1958–1962||A cultural magazine.|
|Forum||Austria||1954–1965||A political and cultural magazine in founded by Friederich Torberg and others. In 1965 it was taken over by Gunter Nenning and became Neues Forum, a publication devoted to Christian-Communist dialogue.|
|Horison||Indonesia||1960s & 1970s|
|Informes de China||Argentina||1960s||Set up to provide Latin America with information about China.|
|Jiyu (Freedom)||Japan||1960 to present||One of the most heavily subsidized of all the CFF magazines. Edited by Hoki Ishihara. The chief editor Isihara found other sources of funding when subsidies from Paris and the national committee ceased to exist.|
|Kulturkontakt||Sweden||1954–1960||Bimonthly political and cultural magazine, published by Svenska kommittén för kulturens frihet (Swedish Committee for Cultural Freedom). Publishers were Ture Nerman (1954–57) and Ingemar Hedenius (1957–60). Edited by Birgitta Stenberg, Kurt Salomonson and Bengt Alexanderson.|
|Minerva||United Kingdom||1962 to present||A quarterly started by sociologist Edward Shils to address issues relating the "worldwide intellectual community", and particularly the growth in universities.|
|Der Monat||Germany||1948–1987||A German-language journal airlifted into Berlin during the 1948 Soviet blockade and edited by Melvin J. Lasky until 1978, when it was purchased by Die Zeit. ICAF subsidy ceased in 1968. It continued as a quarterly until 1987.|
|Mundo Nuevo||Latin America||1963–1971||Successor to Cuadernos (see above). It published established and political writers, holding a variety of views such as Pablo Neruda and Jorge Luis Borges, ceasing to exit when IACF funding ended in 1971.|
|Perspektiv||Denmark||1953–69||Described itself as "a magazine for politics, science and culture". Published by Hans Reitzel, edited by Henning Fonsmark and H.C. Branner. Entered a partnership with Selskabet for Frihet og Kultur (Association for Freedom and Culture), the CCF's Danish counterpart, in 1956. Directly funded by the CCF from at least 1960, when the organization established an office in Copenhagen.|
|Preuves||France||1951–1970s||A cultural, intellectual and literary monthly magazine. CCF's first magazine. Preuves means “proof” or “evidence” in French. Editor was François Bondy, a Swiss writer.|
|Quadrant||Australia||1956 to present||A literary journal published by the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom, edited by Catholic poet James McAuley, had an "anticommunist thrust". ICAF subsidy of the Association and of Quadrant ceased in 1972.|
|Quest||India||1955–1958||English only. In 1971 IACF stopped supporting New Delhi and Calcutta offices.|
|Science and Freedom||1954–1961||Edited by Michael Polanyi. Biannual bulletin with "a tiny readership" of 3,000. In 1961 the Congress Executive replaced it with Minerva (see above).|
|Social Science Review||ICAF subsidy ceased in 1971; the Review found other sources of funding.|
|Solidarity||Philippines||1960s & 1970s||A cultural, intellectual and literary monthly magazine. After its IACF subsidy ended in 1971 it found other sources of funding.|
|Soviet Survey (became Survey)||1955–1989||At first a monthly newsletter edited by Walter Laqueur, the CCF’s official representative in Israel. After 1964 became a quarterly journal, edited by Leopold Labedz, focused on Soviet bloc. IACF subsidy ceased in early 1970s; the magazine found other sources of funding.|
|Tempo Presente||Italy||1956–1968||Edited by Ignazio Silone and Nicola Chiaromonte.|
|Transition Magazine||Uganda||1961–1968||Editor Rajat Neogy. Sales reached 12,000 in early 1960s (a quarter of them in the USA) but the arrest, detention and subsequent emigration of editor Neogy in 1968 marked the end of this controversial literary-political magazine.|